Ravinder Bhalla

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Ravi Bhalla
12.19.17RaviBhallaByLuigiNovi2.jpg
39th Mayor of Hoboken
Assumed office
January 1, 2018 [1]
Preceded by Dawn Zimmer
Member of the Hoboken City Council
At-large
In office
July 1, 2009 – January 1, 2017
Personal details
Born (1974-01-13) January 13, 1974 (age 44)[2]
Passaic, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Navneet K. Patwalia
Children 2
Residence Hoboken, New Jersey
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (B.S.)
London School of Economics (MSc)
Tulane University Law School (J.D.)
Occupation Civil rights attorney

Ravinder Singh Bhalla, often simply called Ravi Bhalla, is an American civil rights lawyer, politician, and the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey. Prior to becoming mayor, he served in the city council of Hoboken, New Jersey since 2009. On November 7, 2017, he was elected New Jersey's first Sikh mayor, first municipal politician to spend over $500,000.00 on an election campaign, as well as the first elected mayor in the United States who is a Sikh and wears a turban.[3][4][5][6][a]

Early life[edit]

Ravinder Singh Bhalla was born in Passaic, New Jersey,[9] and raised in Woodland Park (then called West Paterson.)[10] His parents, Ranbir and Harminder Singh, live in Montville, New Jersey, where they own and manage a company that manufactures high-pressure sodium street lamps that Ranbir Singh, a physicist, invented himself.[11]

Bhalla earned a bachelor of science degree in political psychology from University of California, Berkeley, a masters degree in public administration and public policy from the London School of Economics, and earned his juris doctor from Tulane University Law School in New Orleans.[11][12]

Career[edit]

Legal practice[edit]

Bhalla was a civil rights attorney at the law firm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader who have represented NJ Transit.[13][14]

In one case in 2002, Bhalla represented three high school students at Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington, New Jersey. The high school had implemented a policy of random drug-testing of students participating in any extracurricular activities or who have a parking permit, and the three students filed a lawsuit in New Jersey State Court alleging the school's drug-testing policy violated their rights according to the New Jersey Constitution.[15] The New Jersey state court ruled that the random drug-testing was allowable under the state constitution, pointing to a similar case ruling by a federal court. Bhalla said he disagreed with the state court's ruling, saying that the New Jersey Constitution gives a wider protection against unreasonable search and seizure than the United States Constitution.[16]

In a case in 2003, Bhalla represented Amric Singh Rathour. Rathour had qualified for a job in traffic enforcement with the New York Police Department. Rathour's supervisors fired Rathour because he would not shave his beard or stop wearing his turban, both of which are required by Rathour's religion, Sikhism. On behalf of his client, Bhalla filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for religious discrimination.[17]

Bhalla wrote an amicus curae for the federal court case of married couple Harpal Singh Cheema and Rajwinder Kaur. Cheema had been brutally and repeatedly tortured by Indian police for protesting the Indian government and for giving food and shelter to protesters. Cheema and Kaur had been allowed to enter the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. Their asylum application was later disapproved, and they were trying to fight that decision so they could remain in the U.S.[18][19] Cheema lost his appeal and was deported to India, where he was arrested at Indira Gandhi International Airport.[20]

In another case, Bhalla represented Gurpreet S. Kherha. A car dealership in Little Falls, New Jersey, refused to employ Kherha because of its policy of prohibiting beards. Kherha's religion, Sikhism, forbids him from shaving his beard. Bhalla filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a lawsuit in New Jersey State Court, stating that the car dealership had violated Kherha's civil rights by refusing him reasonable religious accommodation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that Kherha had indeed suffered religious discrimination, and the parties settled the case.[21]

Politics[edit]

Bhalla ran for an at-large seat on the Hoboken City Council in 2009 on incumbent mayor Dawn Zimmer's ticket. During Bhalla's campaign, he emphasized fiscal responsibility, slowing down development, increasing the amount of affordable housing, lower city property taxes, and transparency in government.[9] In the election, Bhalla received 13% of the vote, advancing to a runoff election.[22] In the runoff election, Bhalla received 17% of the vote, winning an at-large seat on the Hoboken City Council for a four-year term in office.[11] He was sworn in on July 1, 2009.[23]

Bhalla served as the chairman of the Hoboken Democratic Party from 2010 to 2011. He also served as vice president of the council between 2010 and 2011, and he served as president of the city council from 2011 to 2012.[24]

Bhalla during an interview on MSNBC on the day after his 2017 election win

In 2011, Bhalla ran to represent the 33rd Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly. During his campaign, Bhalla emphasized that New Jersey had the highest property taxes in the country, and he advocated for lowering property taxes, offset by an increase to state income taxes. Bhalla focused on creating jobs and strengthening New Jersey's hate crime laws. Bhalla opposed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's $1.3-billion cuts in the state's education budget. Bhalla called himself an Independent Democrat.[25] Bhalla was defeated in the Democratic primary election, coming in third place, but he has stated that he still has political aspirations to be a legislator at the state or Federal level.[26]

In 2012, following Superstorm Sandy, Bhalla distributed food to people at multiple locations in Hoboken.[27]

Bhalla filed to run again to represent the 33rd District in the [New Jersey General Assembly in 2013.[28] The following month, Bhalla withdrew from the election when Carmelo Garcia's candidacy was cleared.[29] Instead Bhalla ran for reelection to the Hoboken City Council.[30] Bhalla received 14% of the vote, giving him a second four-year term in office.[31][32]

In 2017, Bhalla decided to run for a third term on the Hoboken City Council.[33] When incumbent Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer decided not to run for reelection, she endorsed Bhalla in a surprise press conference.[34] During Bhalla's mayoral campaign, he advocated for response development, open-space initiatives, defending Hoboken's citizens' rights from the Trump administration, fiscal responsibility, holding the line on local taxes, and building a surplus for unanticipated city emergencies.[35] Bhalla won the election with 33% of the vote.[3][4][5][6] His term of office began January 1, 2018.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Bhalla has lived in Hoboken, New Jersey since 2000.[9] He lives with his children, Arza and Shabegh, and his wife, Navneet (also known as Bindya), a human rights attorney.[11][12]

Electoral results[edit]

2009[edit]

2009 Council of Hoboken, New Jersey, At Large, General Election[22]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Carol Marsh 3,719 13%
Nonpartisan Ravi Bhalla 3,698 13%
Nonpartisan David Mello 3,361 12%
Nonpartisan Vincent Addeo 2,624 9%
Nonpartisan Raul Morales Jr. 2,576 9%
Nonpartisan Angel Alicea 2,534 9%
Nonpartisan Michael Novak 2,513 9%
Nonpartisan Anthony Pasquale 2,418 9%
Nonpartisan Frances Rhodes-Kearns 2,415 9%
Nonpartisan Chris Carbine 705 3%
Nonpartisan Timothy Occhipinti 672 2%
Nonpartisan Patricia Waiters 569 2%
2009 Council of Hoboken, New Jersey, At Large, Runoff Election[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Carol Marsh 5,853 17%
Nonpartisan Ravi Bhalla 5,857 17%
Nonpartisan David Mello 5,648 17%
Nonpartisan Vincent Addeo 5,560 16%
Nonpartisan Raul Morales Jr. 5,431 16%
Nonpartisan Angel Alicea 5,422 16%

2011[edit]

2011 New Jersey General Assembly, 33rd Legislative District, Democratic Party Primary Election[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ruben J. Ramos Jr. 13,564 46%
Democratic Sean Conners 13,438 45%
Democratic Ravi S. Bhalla 2,781 9%

2013[edit]

2013 Council of Hoboken, New Jersey, At Large, General Election[32]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan David Mello 4,828 15%
Nonpartisan James F. Doyle 4,727 15%
Nonpartisan Ravinder S. Bhalla 4,561 14%
Nonpartisan Laura Miani 2,974 9%
Nonpartisan Eduardo Gonzalez 2,955 9%
Nonpartisan Joseph Mindak 2,947 9%
Nonpartisan Frank Raja 2,880 9%
Nonpartisan Peter Biancamano 2,775 9%
Nonpartisan Britney Montgomery-Cook 2,214 7%
Nonpartisan Patricia Waiters 673 2%
Nonpartisan Write-in 25 0%

2017[edit]

2017 Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, General Election[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Ravi Bhalla 5,041 32.75%
Nonpartisan Michael DeFusco 4,557 29.6%
Nonpartisan Anthony L. Romano 2,804 18.21%
Nonpartisan Jen Giattino 2,537 16.48%
Nonpartisan Karen Nason 233 2%
Nonpartisan Ronald Bautista 201 1%
Nonpartisan Write-in 5 0%

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kash Gill was the first Sikh to be elected mayor in the United States when he was elected mayor of Yuba City, California, in 2009, but he did not wear a turban.[7] Additionally, the Charlottesville City Council (Virginia) appointed councilmember Satyendra Huja, a Sikh who wears a turban, to the position of mayor in 2012.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Otterman, Sharon (2017-11-08). "In a City of Firsts, Hoboken Elects a Sikh as Mayor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  2. ^ Tran, Claire (July 19, 2017). "Asian America New Jersey's First Sikh Elected Official Looks to 'Uplift' Community in Mayoral Bid". NBC News.
  3. ^ a b "Ravinder Bhalla becomes first Sikh mayor of Hoboken city in US". Times of India. November 8, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Baer, Marilyn (October 22, 2017). "Profiles: Three of six mayoral candidates: Get to know Bhalla, Giattino, and Bautista". The Hudson Reporter. October 22, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Park, Madison (November 8, 2017). "Election night brings historic wins for minority and LGBT candidates". CNN. November 8, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Trans politician and Sikh mayor among diverse politicians chosen in US elections". BBC. November 8, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Smith, Ken (October 24, 2013). "Sikhs of the Sacramento Valley". Chico News & Review (Chico, California).
  8. ^ "Sikh Elected Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia". News India-Times (New York, New York). January 27, 2012. p. 4.
  9. ^ a b c Sohrabji, Sunita (3 April 2009). "Ravinder Bhalla Runs for Hoboken City Council". India-West San Leandro, California). p. A26.
  10. ^ Lehrer, Brian (November 10, 2017). "New Leaders in New Jersey". The Brian Lehrer Show. WNYC. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d Sohrabji, Sunita (26 June 2009). "Hoboken Gets First Sikh City Councilman". India-West (San Leandro, California). p. A29.
  12. ^ a b "About Ravi". Ravi Bhalla for Hoboken Mayor. 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  13. ^ "Attorneys". Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, LLC. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  14. ^ Venugopal, Arun. "Community concerns discussed at SAALT talks". India Abroad (New York, New York). April 15, 2005. p. C6.
  15. ^ Slack, Donovan (June 28, 2002). "Experts: Garden State case may carry more weight". The Times (Trenton, New Jersey). p. A1.
  16. ^ Reilly, Matthew. "School wins drug-test appeal: Expanded Hunterdon Central program called no denial of rights". The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey). August 13, 2002. p. 1.
  17. ^ "Sikh alleges discrimination by NYPD". The Statesman (India). March 5, 2003.
  18. ^ "Cheema and Kaur v. Immigration and Naturalization Service". United States Court of Appeals,Ninth Circuit. via findlaw.com. December 1, 2003. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  19. ^ Taiara, Camille T. (August 7, 2006). "Harpal Singh Cheema Chose "Voluntary" Deportation". New America Media. The Sikh Times. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  20. ^ "Khalistani arrested". The Statesman. May 3, 2006.
  21. ^ Joseph, George (6 December 2013). "Sikh man gets $50,000 damages in religious discrimination case". India Abroad (New York, New York). p. A10.
  22. ^ a b "Hoboken Numbers". The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). May 13, 2009.
  23. ^ Baldwin, Carly (July 1, 2009). "Hoboken". The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). p. A4.
  24. ^ Joseph, George (15 November 2013), but lost subsequent re-election attempts for city counsel president. "Hoboken Councilman Ravinder Bhalla to sue colleague Beth Mason". India Abroad (New York, New York). p. A8.
  25. ^ Sohrabji, Sunita (27 May 2011). "Hoboken City Councilman Bhalla Runs for State Assembly". India-West (San Leandro, California). p. A10.
  26. ^ Sohrabji, Sunita (17 June 2011). "Ravinder Bhalla Loses Bid for New Jersey Assembly Seat". India-West (San Leandro, California). p. A10, A12.
  27. ^ Sohrabji, Sunita (9 November 2012). "Superstorm Sandy Decimates Homes, Businesses in Its Path". India-West (San Leandro, California). p. A2, A4.
  28. ^ Hack, Charles (April 24, 2013). "Hoboken Councilman Bhalla confirms run for state Assembly". The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). nj.com.
  29. ^ Hack, Charles (May 8, 2013). "Councilman Ravi Bhalla withdrwaws from Assembly race citing state Supreme Court ruling". The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). nj.com.
  30. ^ "Ravi Bhalla Runs for Reelection to Hoboken, N.J., Council". India-West (San Leandro, California). October 18, 2013. p. A18.
  31. ^ Dutt, Ela (15 November 2013). "New Jersey Assemblyman Re-elected for a 7th Term". News India-Times (New York, New York). p. 6–7.
  32. ^ a b "Hoboken Council-At-Large 40/40 100.00%". Division of Elections. Hudson County Clerk's Office. November 2013.
  33. ^ "Hoboken Councilman Bhalla Raises Funds for Third Term". India-West (San Leandro, California). April 21, 2017. p. A22.
  34. ^ Sohrabi, Sunita (14 July 2017). "An Unexpected Run for Hoboken Mayor". India-West (San Leandro, California). p. A3, A14.
  35. ^ "Indian-American Councilman Running For Mayor Of Hoboken, New Jersey". News India-Times (New York, New York). June 30, 2017. p. 8.
  36. ^ "Hoboken Mayor Bhalla takes oath of office, designates Hoboken a 'welcoming city'". The Hudson Reporter. January 1, 2018.
  37. ^ Baldwin, Carly (June 12, 2009). "Zimmer's slate retains win of City Council seats". nj.com. New Jersey On-Line LLC.
  38. ^ "June 7, 2011 Hudson County primary election results". The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). June 7, 2011.
  39. ^ Hoboken Mayor, 40/40 (100.00%)". Hudson County Clerk's Office. Retrieved November 10, 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Ravinder Bhalla at Wikimedia Commons